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  1. #1
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    Some questions on hygiene while on tour

    I have not toured yet but have read many related books and journals and I don't recollect truck stops mentioned as a place to get a shower.
    A relative owned a truck stop and he indicated that truck stops have paid showers.

    Another question is that when stealth camping, one cannot shower/bathe unless next to a river or lake and weather permitting. I am habituated to shower every morning and and am uncomfortable with the idea of starting a day w/o a shower. I am sure many bike tourists have experienced the same and wonder how to manage. Guess such luxuries have to be left home!

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    Touring is partly about expanding your comfort range. The world won't end if you don't bathe daily or smell a little. There's a billion dollar perfume industry that's exists mostly due to the reality that people often stink.

    Avoid bathing in rivers/lakes - detergent is bad for aquatic life.

    There are quite a few solar showers devices which are nothing more than black water bags with cord. These, or a water bladder made by MSR or Ortlieb will provide a neat, lightweight shower capability along with the obvious necessary water carrying capacity. Don't ruin the material with boiling-hot water. This water bag is nearly perfect with the accessory shower nozzle:

    http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup....FQsGnQodmmEAXQ
    Last edited by seeker333; 10-19-12 at 01:43 PM.

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Sponge baths in restrooms sinks will do the trick.
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  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
    I am habituated to shower every morning and and am uncomfortable with the idea of starting a day w/o a shower.
    Get over it.

    Nothing horrible will happen to you if you don't get your morning shower every day ... you can actually go an entire week or more without a shower and be just fine. Bring some baby wipes to do a bit of a clean up if necessary, or use the sink and paper towels in a washroom.

    Rowan and I lived in a small, rustic cabin in a rather remote area for a year after the Victorian bushfires. We were completely off the grid, and among other things, we did not have a shower. But we worked around it.


    And yes, you can find showers in many places ... truck stops, airports, swimming pools, beaches, campgrounds, hotels, B&Bs, hostels ...

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    Yes, the daily shower is a relatively new ritual in the history of mankind. I do remember reading about the Friday night weekly bath families had, sometimes in the same tub of water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Sponge baths in restrooms sinks will do the trick.
    Sounds good!

  7. #7
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    While I grab a shower whenever I can, I have used truck stops, baby wipes, local swimming pools (always have showers) during the summer, a larger town's indoor swimming pool, fire stations, sinks, etc. If I have gone more than 2 days without a "real" shower, I will get one mid-day even if I am doing more riding. While I like truck stops since I can usually do laundry also, I do not come across them very often as they tend to be next to major roads which I rarely ride along.

    The primary place to keep clean at least once daily is the crotch and bottom areas. If they get infected (that rash that won't be fixed by typical monkey butt ointments), it is very painful and takes a few days to heal up after you have started taking the antibiotic.
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  8. #8
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
    I have not toured yet but have read many related books and journals and I don't recollect truck stops mentioned as a place to get a shower.
    A relative owned a truck stop and he indicated that truck stops have paid showers.

    Another question is that when stealth camping, one cannot shower/bathe unless next to a river or lake and weather permitting. I am habituated to shower every morning and and am uncomfortable with the idea of starting a day w/o a shower. I am sure many bike tourists have experienced the same and wonder how to manage. Guess such luxuries have to be left home!
    Keeping clean is a good thing. You can go for long periods without bathing --that much is true. But you can also keep your standards, or even raise them.

    You don't need rivers or lakes (but you can use them when available, though it is most responsible to use soaps away from them, and even then to use biodegradable products) or showers. You can use water bottles, 1.5 liters for better capacity. The squirt tops are useful (for shampooing, among other things). You can sometimes find warm water to fill them with, or leave them in the sun for a while.

    It also helps to be able to use cold or cool water happily. (After learning to do so I found this to be very liberating.)

    A good compact microfiber towel is a godsend. These things are great. You can even find them in earth colors if you look around.

    A small squirt bottle for the soap is handy if you are using liquid soap like Bronners (the smaller sizes of which come in just such bottles).

    Microfiber towels are also good for sponge baths. They clean very well even without soap. Not kidding -- you can find studies online.

    The other thing I have found to be very useful and effective is a spray bottle (mister, atomizer). Extremely useful. Just spray your face for example, or your hands, and then go over them with a microfiber towel, drying and cleaning at the same time. Very effective -- more so than you might expect.

    These sprayers are also efficient -- good for conserving water. This can be useful, make it last, and save weight.

    And they have many other uses as well -- showering, freshening up, cleaning various items, washing apples, pears and other fruit, etc.

    A quick mister shower can be taken in a tent before going to sleep, and helps keep the sleeping bag clean. (I also find that I sleep better when clean.)

    You can also mist the nylon fabric of a tent or sleeping bag (also certain clothing items and stains or spills) and then dry/clean with a microfiber cloth. Good for spot cleaning, freshening, and touching up.

    These misters come in various sizes and spray patterns. You can find them all over the place. Dollar Tree sells body sprays in small misters that you can just empty out and use. The various misters sold for hair care and barbering can work. Cleaning and car care products come in useful spray bottles, as do many other products. Some salad dressing spray bottles are good. There is a wide array to choose from.

    The Travel Bottle Kits at some stores (including DT) sometimes contain a good, compact mister bottle, along with some other small and useful containers. Good kits.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-19-12 at 04:52 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Touring is partly about expanding your comfort range. The world won't end if you don't bathe daily or smell a little. There's a billion dollar perfume industry that's exists mostly due to the reality that people often stink.

    Avoid bathing in rivers/lakes - detergent is bad for aquatic life.

    There are quite a few solar showers devices which are nothing more than black water bags with cord. These, or a water bladder made by MSR or Ortlieb will provide a neat, lightweight shower capability along with the obvious necessary water carrying capacity. Don't ruin the material with boiling-hot water. This water bag is nearly perfect with the accessory shower nozzle:

    http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup....FQsGnQodmmEAXQ
    Have you used one?

    I have and it's not particularly practical for bicycle touring unless you intend to remain in one spot for 24 hours when there is intense sunshine -- the water takes about that long to heat up.

    After the bushfires mentioned in Machka's post, I lived in a caravan by a lake for three or four months. Using the solar shower became a real nuisance and wasn't practical, even after heating and filling it with water from a pot.

    I had more success using ordinary bicycle water bottles.

    Quote Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
    The primary place to keep clean at least once daily is the crotch and bottom areas. If they get infected (that rash that won't be fixed by typical monkey butt ointments), it is very painful and takes a few days to heal up after you have started taking the antibiotic.
    Most of the issues relate to fungal growth related to ringworm or athletes foot, but in the groin and butt region.

    Topical treatment with ointment with antifungal agents are preferred. There is a chance of bacterial infections, but they originate in sweat glands and broken skin caused by other issues.

    Wiping your arse properly after a crap is a good first-line defence against smells. This is where wet wipes become really handy.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    I have used solar showers many times when kayaking and touring by bike if I am offered the use of someone else’s, but they will only work is they are left in the sun during the heat of the day and that mean hauling the water while riding. I don’t carry one on tour. I have a 1.5 liter wide mouth Nalgene bottle I carry in one of those oversize water bottle cages and a soft wide mouth 1.5 liter Nalgene canteen. I fill both to the top and then pour about 600 to 700 ml from one into a pot and bring it to a boil with my home made alcohol stove. I pour the boiling water back into the bottle and throw a jersey or something over it to keep the water warm. I repeat the process with the second bottle. I fashioned a shower spout with parts from REI and the local ACE hardware store and an extra Nalgene top. I get wet with the soft bottle and soap up (with my bike shorts on if I am in a crowded camp ground). Then I pour the hot water from the hard bottle into the soft bottle and rise. Three liters seems to be plenty of water.

    The water doesn’t have to be potable, but it does have to be available. No water, no Shower!

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Get over it.
    I have to add a big +1 to that.

    Daily bathing is a very recent thing. Through most of human history weekly bathing or less has been the norm. Even within my memory a weekly Saturday night bath was the norm for most folks.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
    The primary place to keep clean at least once daily is the crotch and bottom areas. If they get infected (that rash that won't be fixed by typical monkey butt ointments), it is very painful and takes a few days to heal up after you have started taking the antibiotic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Topical treatment with ointment with antifungal agents are preferred. There is a chance of bacterial infections, but they originate in sweat glands and broken skin caused by other issues.
    Yes ... and we usually carry Ozonol (or Polysporin) and an antifungal cream with us when we are on randonnees or tours, just in case.


    But that rash can be prevented by having a bicycle that fits, a good saddle, decent shorts/pants (not necessarily cycling shorts), and by washing the sitting area with water and drying well with paper towels every now and then. If it does appear, then the Ozonol and/or antifungal cream ... or even zinc oxide cream will help clear it up.

  13. #13
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Have you used one? I have not and it's not particularly practical for bicycle touring unless you intend to remain in one spot for 24 hours when there is intense sunshine -- the water takes about that long to heat up.
    Not the solar shower, for the exact reason you mentioned. Solar showers are a lot like solar panels for recharging devices - they work but take too long to be practical for bike touring.

    I have used the linked Ortlieb water bag for showering, perhaps 30 times. I mix 50/50 hot/cold water, heated from pot/stove. The 4L bag is just a little too small for a decent shower, really need ~6L but Otlieb only makes them in 4 and then 10L, and I didn't want to pay for or carry the 10L bag. I got 4L bag on sale from Wiggle UK for ~$15 shipped to USA The Ortlieb bags are lighter than MSR, and cheaper, but not as durable. Mine actually weighed 87g with the shower nozzle added, which is super light for any 4l water carrier.

    http://www.ortlieb.de/_prod.php?lang...odukt=waterbag
    Last edited by seeker333; 10-19-12 at 04:23 PM.

  14. #14
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
    Yes, the daily shower is a relatively new ritual in the history of mankind. I do remember reading about the Friday night weekly bath families had, sometimes in the same tub of water.
    That's what we did when I grew up on a homestead in Alaska. I carry 2 pr. of shorts, one to wear, one in the pannier. I try to wash the used pair somehow every day. Doesn't always get dry, but that's OK. I know some folks can wear one pair for days, but that's too nasty for me. I don't want to give cyclists a bad name . . . A shower every few days is fine.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Clarabelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
    I have not toured yet but have read many related books and journals and I don't recollect truck stops mentioned as a place to get a shower.
    A relative owned a truck stop and he indicated that truck stops have paid showers.

    Another question is that when stealth camping, one cannot shower/bathe unless next to a river or lake and weather permitting. I am habituated to shower every morning and and am uncomfortable with the idea of starting a day w/o a shower. I am sure many bike tourists have experienced the same and wonder how to manage. Guess such luxuries have to be left home!
    I either sponge or shower at the end of the day rather than in the morning. Salt from sweating attracts moisture making sleeping less comfortable.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm one who will wear her cycling shorts several days in a row before washing them. I let them air out at night and they're good to go in the morning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    That's what we did when I grew up on a homestead in Alaska. I carry 2 pr. of shorts, one to wear, one in the pannier. I try to wash the used pair somehow every day. Doesn't always get dry, but that's OK. I know some folks can wear one pair for days, but that's too nasty for me. I don't want to give cyclists a bad name . . . A shower every few days is fine.
    I am not sure why there is this perception that cyclists have to stink after a day on the bike. The only area of concern is the butt, and careful attention to wiping after using the toilet can overcome much of that issue. If there is a strong BO smell from the armpits, I would suggest there is a fungal or bacterial issue there that washing won't necessarily clear up.

    There are many hikers and backpackers who spend days in the bush and emerge smelling, well, not great, but for most the odour is bearable. And often it is the smell from shoes or boots that stands out most.

    Touring cyclists who have been on the road for several days without "washing" haven't smelled any different, in my opinion.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  18. #18
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    easy solution.

    2-liter soda bottle. filled with water, bungeed to your rear rack.
    most racks have a black platform. if not, a black piece o' plastic under the bottle
    to help warm the water. or paint the bottle black. whatever.

    end of the ride, you have hot/warm water.

    you brought extra soda bottle caps right? of course you did. now take one of
    your sewing needles, warm the tip in the flame of your lighter. poke the hot
    needle through the top of one of the extra bottle caps. repeat about 15 times.
    now change bottle caps. crikey! you gots a hot water sqeezie-shower!

  19. #19
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    If the shower is that important, stay at hotels/B&Bs and regular campsites that have showers. If that's not available, you can clean yourself very well with a small bottle of water and a little soap, or baby wipes. I take a shower after arriving at the destination, to get rid of dirt and sunscreen, helps keeping the inside of the tent and sleeping bag clean.

    I can wear the jersey and socks the second day, if I have to, but not shorts. That's just gross. I have to have clean shorts.

  20. #20
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    If you are going to bathe in a river or lake make sure you bring along the environmentally friendly body wash. It is non-toxic and rapidly biodegrades. You can get it at any camping store. Back in the day they used to recommend plain original Ivory bar soap as being the most biofriendly of the "regular" soaps due to the lack of oils, colorants and perfumes. Just going for a swim and washing using a handcloth without soap will get off the sweat and most of the dirt and will suffice for a day or two.

    http://www.vermontsoap.com/press/press7.html

    Beware of using a lot of deodorants, powders, etc to control odor as they can also become very irritating to skin when you are sweating alot and have limited chances to shower.

    In addition to truck stops, many health clubs, swimming pools, campgrounds and other facilities will allow you to use their showers for a minimal fee. Check ahead with cycle shops or clubs along your route as they usually know of cycling friendly stopping spots with amenities.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  21. #21
    eternalvoyage
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    YMCAs can be useful as well.

  22. #22
    Garlic
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    www.warmshowers.com

    Cycle touring can be anything you want it to be. You can plan your tour around a motel every night and have your daily shower if you really want it.

    When I'm stealth camping, I try to wash up at a public restroom sink before I stop. On a warm day, I'll even wash out my clothes and put them on wet. They dry quickly. I carry a small universal sink stopper since many public sinks lack them. On cold days, I'm usually not that sweaty so it's OK to skip a day or maybe four. Like everyone else says, keep the crotch clean and pay attention to your body.

  23. #23
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    Showering at night is better than the morning - go to bed clean, wake up clean enough, and it keeps your bag cleaner. I can't stand going to bed with road dirt and sticky sunscreen and sweat on me. Therefore, I strongly prefer camping in campgrounds with showers. If that's not available, sponge baths are a poor substitute but better than nothing.

    Also, morning is absolutely the best time to be riding - light winds, light traffic, cool.... I wouldn't waste the best part of the day showering - I get on the road as early as I can.

    I wash my bike clothes every night and dry them on the rack the next day. I don't care if people didn't bathe daily for millennia, I like to be clean and wear clean(ish) clothes. It's not that I care what anyone thinks I smell like, it's for me.

    I care enough about this that I don't stealth camp unless there is no choice. In months and months and months of touring, I've stealth camped maybe twice, camped with out a shower maybe a dozen times.

    I used to live in a van, and was able to shower way less frequently - because it wasn't under my control, it wasn't my van - and that was a source of much dis-satisfaction for me.
    ...

  24. #24
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Truck stops are good places to take showers, they cost about $10 give or take a dollar, and sometimes you have to wait your turn.

    If you have to take a shower or bath outside then the best method is to collect water in a portable plastic container and wash at least 200 feet from a river, stream, lake, pond etc, and use Dr Bronner's 18 in 1 hemp pure Castile soap, this stuff is supposedly the least likely to have any effect on water and you can get it at Walgreens, Target, and Meijer. Then if you have any gray water after washing pour it on the ground at least 400 feet from any water source. Or unscented baby wipes or towelettes or sanitizing wet wipes which kill bacteria which causes odor, or washcloth and baking soda and hot water.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
    easy solution.

    2-liter soda bottle. filled with water, bungeed to your rear rack.
    most racks have a black platform. if not, a black piece o' plastic under the bottle
    to help warm the water.
    Not so easy for me, that's 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) of extra weight I am not willing to truck for the two to three hours required to get it warm.

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